written by guest blogger, Lynnea Stuart
Some people think I’m Jewish. I’m not.
Not only am I a goya (Gentile female), I’m a transsexual Gnostic goya who happens to study Hebrew.
my best female friend is Jewish… and single. Sometimes we get together
to commiserate about men. I told her one day, “Why don’t you get
serious about your tradition? Go to Shabbat services. Light some
Then I moved away from my boyfriend. She asked me to
stay with her. For the first week or so I never saw her doing anything
more for Shabbat than macrobiotic cooking which isn’t quite the same
thing as kosher cooking even if it’s consistent with kosher rules. So I
decided to prompt something to happen.
I went out and bought
some candles designed to burn down in a couple of hours. When it comes
to Sabbath lights, one does not extinguish them once lit. They are
simply allowed to burn themselves out.
So we looked around for
some candlesticks. What we found that fit were some silver candlesticks
so neglected they were heavily bearded in red wax. I said, “Those
should work.” She was shaken.
As I learned later, these were her grandmother’s candlesticks she had used for Shabbat.
continued my preparations: shower, cooking, cleaning. Then as sunset
approached I prompted her to the Sabbath lights. She lit them and
melted them into their sockets. She covered her eyes and said, “Will
you recite the barakhah (blessing)?”
because, after all, I’m not Jewish. I was just trying to get her to
exercise her own tradition. But she assured me with, “Yes.”
waved my hands over the candles in a circular pattern, crossed them to
cover my eyes and recited, “Barukh Atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh
Ha’olam, Asher kiddeshanu b’mitvotaiv vitzivanu l’hadliyk ner shel
Shabbat.” (Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the Universe, Who
sanctified us in His commands and commanded us to kindle a light of
My Jewish friend followed along with me in one of the
few barakhot I actually know. But no sooner than we recited it
something remarkable happened.
Picture an explosion of a
skyrocket like on the 4th of July. At that moment Light burst from
between those candles with energy we both felt, a Lumina that filled the
dwelling in a vibrant hush.
My friend’s eyes widened. “Wow! This is a holy meal!”
then understood something from what I had read in various Rabbinic
articles. What my Magian friends had called, “Light” must have been
what the Rabbis called, “Chai” (Life). It felt the same as I had felt
many times in many traditions: tingly, living, and wonderful. It’s an
energy one encounters when touching the sacred. It alone has kept not a
few from returning to the rites of their respective traditions again
And that Shabbat I had the privilege of sharing it with a Jewish friend.
she light Sabbath lights on her own after that? I never saw it
happen. But she did clean up those candlesticks and set them in an
honored place on her table… with decorative Shabbat candles for another
heralding of Shabbat as a sanctuary in time. And I offered a prayer
that the man she may find would lead her to light those candles again.
even in something simple as lighting candles, there’s a profound Light
ready to answer, regardless of whether a girl is of a given faith or
not… and regardless of whether religionists accept her a woman.
Urania Stuart was first published in Shabbat Shalom magazine (Review
and Herald Publishers) as a contributing writer in 1990 and later wrote
the San Francisco Scene column for TV Epic in 2000. Her religious
background is varied, though she today speaks of herself as “Melissite
Gnostic” and may be found in most any religious group, whether
Abrahamic, Dharmic, Shamanic, or Telestatic. She does so openly as a
post-operative transsexual woman while at the same time promoting
spirituality within the transgender demographic within the wide
diversity that transgender people hold spirituality.